‘Tis the Season for Practical Jokes, Pranks and Paybacks! (Oh … and a little humor can be handy too!)
By Lynda Schab
"There's a spider crawling on your arm!"
Ah, I love that one. Who doesn't find it entertaining to watch someone dancing the jig with a look of frozen horror on her face, swatting at an imaginary spider?
I've been taken by that little trick several times and because of my admitted arachnophobia, the result has been anything but humorous at the time but becomes hilarious about ten minutes later – AFTER my breathing has returned to normal, my heart rate has slowed, and my hand stops brushing at my sleeve. That's when I think about what I must have looked like to the average bystander – and the image it brings throws me into fits of laughter.
My kids actually have a large plastic spider they love to scare me with, putting it on the floor or in my bed, or in the laundry pile, which really freaks me out. The funny thing is, even though I KNOW it's fake, I hesitate to touch it because, "what if it turns out to be real?" You never know. It does look pretty authentic. I shudder to think about that spider turning up on April Fool’s Day – and I know it will.
The origin of April Fool’s Day can be traced back to France in 1564. The New Year originally began on April 1st. When the country adopted the reformed calendar and changed New Years to January 1, some people did not accept this change, or simply didn't hear about it, so continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1st. These "traditionalists" became a laughing stock, and voila! April Fool's Day was born. Since then, this special prank-filled day has been picked up by other countries as well, including England and America.
Today, April Fool’s Day is merely a fun day of the year when people can justify their desire to "pull one over" on a friend, family member, or co-worker. And I doubt it's a coincidence that National Humor Month falls in the same month as April Fool's Day. The two most certainly go together because you have to have a great sense of humor both to execute a prank and to be on the receiving end.
Personally, I love laughing at myself. I laugh out loud when I find myself merging onto the southbound expressway when I intended to go north. I laugh when I trip going up the stairs. I laugh when I do and say stupid things.
Speaking of stupid things, I think the hardest I've ever laughed at myself was the time my husband and I were looking to move and I dragged my mom out to make the rounds of Open Houses, to help me search for that perfect home. When we happened to spot an Open House sign pointing towards a nice neighborhood, we didn't hesitate.
Pulling up to the house with the For Sale sign in the yard, I marveled at all the cars. "Wow. Busy place. Must be a good one, huh?"
Mom agreed and we unloaded my two kids out of the backseat and headed toward the door. We considered entering through the garage, which was open, but opted for the front instead. We barged through the door into a living room full of people, presents on the floor, lots of balloons and a banner hanging from the ceiling, which read, "Happy Birthday Heather."
My first thought was, "Oh -oh." My first brilliant words were, "This isn't an open house, is it?"
Fortunately, the people inside laughed and informed us that the open house we were looking for was down the street. Once we had slinked back to the car, Mom and I laughed uncontrollably for the rest of the day, envisioning what would have happened had we gone through the back door into the kitchen and started opening cupboards.
My son, about eight at the time, wasted no time in saying, "I don't think it's funny." The poor thing was mortified. We had embarrassed him so! Of course, this only made my mother and me laugh even harder.
God created laughter because it's good for us! When we laugh at ourselves, we are saying to the world that despite our imperfections and occasional mess-ups, God is still good! There is joy, even in looking like a fool! (By the way, looking LIKE a fool is different than actually BEING a fool) You have to admit life's a lot more fun – and a lot less stressful – when we laugh at ourselves! It sure is better than beating ourselves up, walking around angry or embarrassed when we make mistakes or just plain do something dumb!
So when someone pulls one over on you this April, try to laugh, even if you want to die of embarrassment. And if you are the one who likes to pull the pranks, here are a few ideas, courtesy of a few FaithWriters’ members, to get your twisted mind going:
"My wife and I were friends with a couple that had a habit of playing jokes on us. So when they asked us to watch their apartment when they were on vacation, we took advantage of the opportunity to pay them back. While they were gone, we went into their pantry and removed every label off of their canned goods. Every label! When they returned and went to the closet, they opened it up and there was shelf after shelf of blank silver cans staring back at them. It made cooking interesting for the next month or so – as they never knew what they were opening. It could be corn or maybe peaches or maybe..."
- Tape the sprayer nozzle on the sink to the on position.
- Sneak into someone's room (house), fill their bathtub with water, and add gold fish.
- Set the scale to have a base weight of twenty five.
~ Dori Knight
~ Michael Aubrecht
"When I was in college my friend Jesse got into my dorm room when I was out on a date. He filled my floor with dixie cups that were partially filled with water. There was nowhere to walk! I was a bit upset, but it WAS funny."
~ Debbie O'Connor
"Here is my favorite – a pastor friend posted an ad for "free Basset hound puppies" and listed another friend's phone number. She received over 150 phone calls that week from people wanting the puppies. After awhile she finally had her daughter, three years old, answer the phone saying, "we don't have any puppies."
~ Darlene Hight
"If you're bilingual - answer your phone in another language, and only respond in that language. I do that often, and have had friends hang up on me because they think they've got the wrong number! And my kids HATE it when I respond to their questions in Afrikaans, or German, as they don't speak either."
~ Cori Smelker
"Invite some friends over for a party. Single one out for the guinea pig. Tell everyone else, to keep asking him, "Are you all right?", "Are you sure you're OK?", etc., until that person is driven NUTS."
~ Zach Reynolds
"For my 21st birthday my roommate taped newspapers across the entrance to my bedroom door, completely blocking it. When I opened my door you could imagine how weird it was, especially when you are half asleep. I had to rip through the papers to get out of my room. I thought it was the funniest thing."
~ Wendy Decker
"My dad would empty my mother's favorite kind of pop from the bottle, and refill it with cold coffee. Cola and coffee look pretty much the same. She'd go to take a big drink, and my dad's name would be shouted loudly through the house –
~ Mary Elder-Criss
Whatever pranks you decide to pull this April Fool's Day, make sure to keep them FUN and SAFE. For instance, if I had a heart condition, the spider joke might not go over quite as well! And remember: those on the receiving end of your jokes will undoubtedly seek retribution. So be prepared to laugh at yourself as well as those you fool!
Lynda Schab is a freelance writer who lives in Michigan. She spends much of her time praying desperately for the Season of Spring to bloom in place of all that snow! If you’d like to write to Lynda, you can do so through the Letters page of this Magazine.
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